A Century Of Ballads 1810-1910, Their Composers & Singers

With Some Introductory Chapters On Old Ballads And Ballad Makers - online book.

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18              A CENTURY OF BALLADS
sixtus, published in this same year, 1592, " every red-nosed rhymester is an author, every drunken man's dream is a book ; and he, whose talent of little wit is hardly worth a farthing, yet layeth about him so outrageously as if all Helicon had run through his pen : in a word, scarce a cat can look out of a gutter, but out starts a halfpenny chronicler, and presently a proper new ballet of a strange sight is indited."
One of the most famous, but by no means the most decent, of the ballads that were in vogue about this time was the one known as "The Carman's Whistle," which is mentioned by Henry Chettle in his Kind Hart's Dreame, when he says : "It would be thought the carman, that was wont to whistle to his beasts a comfortable note, might as well continue his old course, whereby his sound served for a musical harmony in God's ear, as now to follow profane jigging vanity."
It seems that the carmen of this period were particularly noted for their musical abilities and for whistling the tunes of the popular ballads of the day. In a tract written by Taylor, the Water-Poet, entitled "The World runnes on Wheels," he says: "If the carman's horse be melancholy or dull with hard and heavy labour, then will he, like a kind piper, whistle him a fit of mirth to any tune ; of which generosity and courtesy your coachman is altogether ignorant, for he never
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